Nine havildars and 15 constables of the Special Armed Police (SAP) in Peroorkada, in Thiruvananthapuram, were suddenly transferred to the Rapid Response and Rescue Force wing in Malappuram district on Wednesday evening. Almost immediately, reports started doing the rounds that the officials were transferred for not taking part in the government’s ‘salary challenge’ – where they were asked to donate a month’s salary to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to help flood-ravaged Kerala get back on its feet.
Media reports said that the officials who were transferred belonged to various wings of SAP and had submitted a letter stating that they could not donate their salary for various reasons. The government has come under criticism from many quarters for asking employees to donate their salary. Though Finance Minister Thomas Isaac had reiterated that donations were not mandatory, instances of CPI (M) affiliated unions trying to shame those who were unwilling to donate had cropped up many times.
On Wednesday the Kerala High Court had stepped in to say that challenge cannot be made mandatory.
An officer from the SAP commandant camp denied all the reports and told TNM that the transfer had nothing to do with the salary challenge.
“These officials were transferred purely for official reasons. We had received an order from the office of the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) asking for a list of all the junior officials in the camp. From the list we sent, the DIG office selected nine havildars and 15 police constables who would be shifted from the SAP wing to the RRRF wing,” said the officer.
The officer also went on to add that all the officials who were transferred had actually contributed their salary to the relief fund. “Nowadays, any transfer that takes place in the state is assumed to be because they refused to participate in the salary challenge,” the SAP officer said.
Earlier, in September, an employee who was working in the Finance Department of the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram was transferred to another department after he voiced that he could not donate his one month’s salary to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF).